In episode 6 of Rendez-vous CH, Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin talks to host Marc Denis about his decision-making process behind the team's moves at the 2016-17 NHL trade deadline.
MARC DENIS: Marc, we've just passed the trade deadline. How do you feel management has fared, as far as trying to address the needs of this hockey team?
MARC BERGEVIN: I think we addressed some needs. Obviously size was important to us going down the stretch. We added some experience. We would have loved to have added some high-end scoring, but to be honest, it wasn't available. It wasn't out there. Too many teams are fighting for a playoff spot, and if there was a player available, the price was so high. I don't want to sacrifice the future of this organization for short-term fixes.
We added some size, grit, character, and experience and hopefully we'll get into the playoffs and do some damage.
MD: Considering that high-end scoring wasn't available and with the size and grit you added, was that the main focus for this organization? Was that the one thing you figured on the ice was an immediate need for the Montreal Canadiens?
MB: It was, and also depth on defense.
We have eight defensemen this morning, and knock on wood, a week from now we could be looking to add another defenseman from our team in St. John's. Defensemen are the first ones that go down, usually. Right now we feel comfortable with the eight we have here in Montreal, and we're going to move forward with these eight guys.
MD: About two years ago you mentioned, after a very successful season, that some players in the NHL get you through the regular season, but you also need players to get you through the playoffs. Do you feel like you've addresses that need as well?
MB: Yeah, we did. We felt like the guys we added -- guys like Dwight King, for example, won two Stanley Cups with the L.A. Kings -- they've been through the grind. Steve Ott's been in the playoffs many times before. We do feel like we have some grit and character, which will first get us into the playoffs and then through a few rounds, and hopefully help us go all the way to the end.
MD: Max Pacioretty's been a very successful sniper in the NHL. Alex Galchenyuk, Shea Weber, and Alexander Radulov have had good seasons. That being said, are you worried about the secondary scoring -- or the lack thereof -- from this hockey team in the last few months?
MB: Well yes. I mean it is worrisome to a degree, but also I believe the guys will be able to get back to their form from the beginning of the year, when we were producing throughout our lineup. They have a little confidence back. They're playing better, squeezing their sticks a little less than they were earlier on, so hopefully these guys can get some scoring. I know down the stretch there will be tight games -- there will be 2-1 hockey games, 3-2 hockey games -- and hopefully with the guys we have, we'll be able to wear teams down down the stretch.
MD: Can you take me through the emotional rollercoaster that saw this team start 13-1-1, and then struggle without being able to win a game in regulation in February? How did the thought process for Marc Bergevin evolve throughout this regular season?
MB: Well, that was obviously a concern, and that's why we made the coaching change. Even after we lost guys due to injuries in December, we found a way to win games. And maybe the emotional rollercoaster wore off after awhile. We were the team with the most points, ahead in our division, and maybe we got a little complacent -- a little, not lazy, but a little...
MD: Complacent with the cushion?
MB: Yeah, with the cushion, and in the NHL it's so tight now. If you drop a notch, other teams take over, and I think that's what happened.
MD: You just touched on the coaching change. You've mentioned many times that the Montreal Canadiens don't operate on what other teams do, but Claude Julien was available. He hadn't been for too long, but he was available. Getting an experienced coach, a Stanley Cup winner -- a proven winner -- has it been everything you expected out of this coaching change behind the Montreal Canadiens bench?
MB: Yeah, I mean it's been two weeks. I don't think Claude expected the phone call -- he thought he would be back working in the summertime. But he likes what we have here. He made some minor adjustments, and I felt watching our team the first couple of games, we were a team in-between. We were a team that was a little confused, which I believe was because of the small changes -- guys were thinking about the changes instead of just playing. Now I see it's coming more naturally, and that's why we've started having success again.
MD: Finally, I'll remind you of something you said a couple of years ago. You said it will take time for this team to be a Marc Bergevin-type team. Do you feel like the identity of this team resembles its GM now?
MB: It's getting there. Obviously there are 30 of us in the league -- 31 now with Vegas. We know what our teams need. Everybody wants a puck-moving defenseman and everybody wants a big centerman who can score, but they're just not out there. Look at Toronto: they have one in Auston Matthews. Well, they finished last in the league to be able to get him.
If you look around the league, all those top centermen, most of them were drafted. Our goal is not to finish last so we can draft a good player. Our goal is to get in the playoffs and do some damage. Sometimes you become a little bit of a victim of your success. That's the way it's been, but we'll never stop trying to be the best, or trying to win the Stanley Cup.